An early-morning burglary of a Bellevue, Washington gun store Tuesday has possibly put dozens of handguns on the street and underscored what gun rights activists might call a gaping loophole in the Evergreen State’s so-called “universal background check” law.
Criminals don’t obtain guns the way law-abiding citizens do. Instead, they steal guns, and it’s a problem not limited to the Pacific Northwest.
Earlier this month, thieves broke into a Phoenix, Arizona gun store and made off with more than two dozen guns.
The Bellevue burglary is getting plenty of media attention. The gun shop staff at West Coast Armory declined to talk via telephone.
According to various reports, as many as four dozen handguns were taken in the theft. The perpetrators smashed into the shop using a stolen car, and at least three people were involved. The heist was apparently captured on security video. The stolen car was also the getaway vehicle.
It is the second time in recent memory that someone smashed into the same gun shop to steal firearms. The first event saw the thieves crash through a wall of the shop. That theft occurred in April 2016.
More than three years ago, Washington voters passed Initiative 594, a gun control measure that requires background checks for firearms transfers, with a few exceptions. Backers of the initiative spent more than $10.4 million on the campaign, garnering slightly under 60 percent of the vote in November 2014, even though they claimed overwhelming public support for such checks.
The background check requirement ostensibly was supposed to keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent tragic shootings.
However, since the initiative became law, there have been at least two high profile multiple shootings in Western Washington, at a teen party in Mukilteo and a shopping mall in Burlington.
There are no background checks done by criminals when they exchange guns.
The burglary was reportedly discovered by a garbage truck driver who saw the damage, and apparently heard the alarm, and called police.